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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Monday, January 27th (All times Eastern)
Colorado Avalanche (32-14-5) at Dallas Stars (24-20-8), 8:30 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The red-hot Dallas Stars will try to push their winning streak to a season-high four straight games on Monday night when they face the Colorado Avalanche.
The Stars have outscored their opponents 14-1 over their first three-game winning streak since Nov. 13-17 and it comes at a great time as they had lost nine of 10 before this stretch. Dallas now sits six points behind Minnesota for eighth place in the Western Conference.
Kari Lehtonen has keyed the Stars' current win streak, posting two shutouts and stopping 66-of-67 shots faced. He stopped all 24 shots fired his way in Saturday's 3-0 win over Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Lehtonen posted his third shutout of the season and 25th of his career, supported by goals from Sergei Gonchar, Jamie Benn and Rich Peverley. The netminder also assisted on Gonchar's first-period power-play goal, while Benn has two goals and six points over his last three games.
"The last three games have all been excellent from all three zones. Tonight was a very good win for our team," Stars head coach Lindy Ruff said.
Dallas has won the first three of its five-game homestand and will try to win four in a row for the first time since April 5-13 of last season.
Colorado aims to finish off a three-game road trip with a victory and avoid a third loss in four games. The Avs began the swing with a 3-2 victory in Florida on Friday, but lost 5-2 the following night to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Semyon Varlamov made 34 saves in the win over the Panthers and the Avs were slated to start backup Jean-Sebastian Giguere on Saturday, but he was unable to go due to a stiff back. That led to 21-year-old Sami Aittokallio making the start, the second of his career.
The youngster yielded three goals on 18 shots and was lifted after the second period. All three goals allowed came in the middle frame as he made 11 saves in the opening period before getting beat on a rebound goal and then a knuckler from the top right of the circle in a 1:33 span of the second.
"Those first two goals, I've got to make those saves," Aittokallio admitted.
John Mitchell and Tyson Barrie scored goals in the final two minutes of the second period, but Varlamov was beaten twice on 11 shots in the third.
Though he didn't get the full rest the Avs wanted, Varlamov should be back in net tonight. He has won all three of his starts versus the Stars this season, posting a 1.97 goals against average, and is 4-3-2 against them lifetime with a 3.27 GAA.
Lehtonen is 0-1-1 versus the Avalanche this season, yielding nine goals on 77 shots, but still a solid 8-4-2 in his career with a 2.76 GAA in his career against them.
The Avalanche won their first three meetings with the Stars this season before dropping the back end of a home-and-home set on Dec. 17 in Dallas. They have lost four of their last six as the visitor in this series.
01/27 19:54:00 ET
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